I love this meal so much and so does the family. We eat it once a week, it seems! Sweet potatoes are always a hit. It adds some to the expense, but slathering the whole lot up with sour cream is the best. If we don’t have the sour cream on hand, grated cheddar, monterey jack, or ranch dressing are other great options.
The rice and sweet potatoes will cook up while we’re sorting laundry and having the usual afternoon melee. As soon as Ed’s home, we’ll all set the table, throw the beans in the micro and head all the ingredients to the table.
Let’s talk ingredients (and money.)
Brown Rice (1, 2 lb bag is about $2 around these parts. I live in Arkansas–which actually exports RICE. ) We use the rice 1 1/2 cups at a time–so a bag is good for almost 3 meals.)
Black Beans (we use 2 cans for our family of 2 adults and 6 smallish kids–my FAVE brand is RANCH STYLE black beans. I love them because they don’t add weird ingredients or strange oils. They run about .79 a can, if I buy them on sale.)
Sweet potatoes (the price varies per pound, usually about .79. My kids love their sweet potatoes, so I’ve been buying about 1 small to medium potato for each person
For us, this meal costs less than $7 before we add condiments like cheese or sour cream. Not bad to feed 8. It’s one of our more expensive bean meals, but definitely the favorite.
So along about 4:00 today I will blast the oven onto about 425 degrees.
Prep the sweet potatoes: wash, stab viciously with a butter knife, slap them on a cookie sheet lined with foil if you have it
In they go. Pretty much they are done when you start smelling baked sweet potatoes. It might be about 45 minutes or so. OK so maybe an hour. If they burn, you’ll know it. Just keep checking on them until your nose knows. They are completely done when you can squeeze them easily with your fingers (free–but ow!) or those tongs your kids use to lob hot wheels into the sandbox.
Take them out of the oven and slice them open. Let the steam out so they don’t get soggy–then in a while come back and scoop out the flesh and put the orange goodness in a bowl. Top with a little olive oil, butter, salt and pepper if you are so inclined.
After I get the sweet potatoes, I start the rice. I don’t really know how to cook white rice well, so you will have to find that recipe for yourself. But if you want to learn the easiest way to cook brown rice, keep reading. Why brown rice? Well, it has FIBER and VITAMINS and MINERALS. And, it’s TASTY!
In a 3 qt. saucepan combine 1 1/2 c. brown rice and 2 1/2 c. water. Add a little salt or olive oil if you like. Stir.
Bring to a boil, cover, and then turn down to simmer. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.
When the timer goes off, leave the lid on, but shut off the burner. Set your timer for another 20 minutes.
When your timer goes off, your rice will be done to perfection. Or if something went haywire like your 3 year old splashed out the water while stirring, or you forgot to set the timer, or the burner was too hot in the beginning, with the result that the rice is still a tad crunchy, just add a little water and cook it for a bit. If you are waiting for dear one to come home so you can eat supper, just leave the lid on–it can wait. It will wait.
So, Dad walks in the door. I holler to get the table set. And while the kids are dangerously ferrying fiestaware to the table, we heat up the beans. I would like to say that I cook black beans from scratch, but I just haven’t had much luck with it. They were always just tough. The cans are really just too easy, and the brand I get taste really good. Ease wins out.
We have at our table those who furiously separate all food items so that they don’t touch–and we also have casserole boy who scoops it all into a big pile, pours on the ranch dressing, and mushes it with gusto. Personally, I think the taste of these three foods together is WONDERFUL. I hope you like it, too!